How to Choose Reliable EMS Suppliers
Companies that carry out the designing, manufacturing, testing, distribution, and provision of repair or return services for assemblies and electronic components for original equipment manufacturers are referred to as electronic manufacturing services (EMS). This concept is also known as electronic contract manufacturing. Generally, electronic manufacturing services can refer to a specific company or class of subcontractor and the industry as a whole.
As mentioned earlier, the term can be interchanged with electronic contract manufacturing, often shortened to contract manufacturing (CM). Fundamentally, these companies offer a wide range of value-added manufacturing and engineering outsourcing services to OEMs, which allows them to improve efficient operations while focusing on essential activities like research and development.
The demand for outsourced manufacturing services and electronic components is fast-growing, meaning the market of EMS is dynamic. In addition, the growth in demand for innovative technological advancements and consumer electronics is a chance for manufacturers to capitalize on the available opportunities.
It is worth mentioning that there are multiple electronic manufacturing companies you can work with based on what you are looking for. The fundamental of any EMS provider is to perform functions like design, manufacturing, testing, and distribution. In some cases, an entire system assembly may also be another function performed for original equipment manufacturers (OEM). For instance, a printed circuit board (PCB).
The electronic manufacturing industry is quite vast and cuts across different sectors including:
- Healthcare in making medical devices.
- Electronic components such as semiconductors and connectors.
- Government in defense and aerospace.
- Industrial products like automation and robotics.
- Consumer in the making of devices like laptops and smartphones.
The more the EMS market grows, the clearer the driving factors for its growth become. Listed below are some of the main driving factors in this industry.
- The growth of mobile devices.
- The growth in demand for consumer electronics.
- The rise in demand for automotive electronics.
- Focus and advanced skills on core competencies.
As stated above, the EMS applications space is diverse. The applications cover consumers, industries, and commercial use, so it is safe to say that it covers many products in the global market. For instance, the rigid PCB is used in different applications for different purposes. From your tablet, laptop, smartphone, and smartwatch.
How to Choose the Right Supplier
As mentioned earlier, there are multiple electronic manufacturing companies you can work with. However, there are several factors you need to consider before choosing a supplier. It is essential to have an idea of what you are looking for, and you should also have a checklist for the kind of supplier you want to work with.
There are several risks involved when choosing the right supplier to partner up with. If you are in the healthcare industry, this risks are doubled. Listed below are a couple of factors you need to consider if you intend to choose a reliable supplier.
It would be best if you had a strategy in place before you start vetting different suppliers. Since everything is digitized, you can find suppliers with the click of a button on a search engine. There are so many suppliers to choose from, so it helps if you know the exact service you want.
First, figure out what you want, then list the qualities you are looking for in a supplier. Of course, you want a reliable supplier and one who also gives you quality products. However, choosing one is not as simple as that.
This is why you need to devise a strategy before starting sourcing for a supplier. Otherwise, you will be embarking on an impossible task. A strategy is your starting point, and that is what will guide you and help you narrow down on the right supplier. It helps to ask for referrals and do extensive research to make an informed decision. You want to select a supplier whom you are not going to regret working with.
Flexible Production Process
All companies are different, and so are your needs. When looking for a supplier, perhaps one of the essential factors you must consider is how flexible they are. The company you are evaluating and considering partnering with must be flexible and also be able to manage their production process.
Often, you may need something within a short period, so your supplier should deliver under short notice. Therefore, confirm if they can retool the production lines and if their factory layout is flexible.
It is also essential to work with suppliers who can adjust their manufacturing process to fit in flexible batch quantities. For instance, most suppliers may have a minimum order quantity (MOQ), meaning that in some instances, you may end up overstocking to meet their set MOQ.
However, if they are flexible, you do not have to overstock on components, you will only purchase what you need, and you can always restock on more when you need to. This approach can make a significant difference because you can easily change any market demand increase into the size of manufactured electronic devices. Therefore, you must ensure the company can expand its production quickly.
Whenever you are sourcing for a reliable supplier, it helps to find out how long they have been operational. A more established company is likely to be more reliable since you are sure they have worked with multiple clients to have the necessary experience.
Likely their quality also matches their experience. Avoid working with companies that are relatively new to the market because chances are they do not have enough experience manufacturing electronic devices, and they may end up disappointing you.
Find out when a company was established and possibly how many clients they have helped with electronic product manufacturing. A well-established company will meet the multiple specific requirements you may have, especially if you would like to have an existing model upgraded or launch new products to meet the current growing market demands.
You are not only guaranteed reliability when you work with such a company, but you are also sure that you will receive high-quality products. It will also help if you read past customers’ testimonials.
It is worth mentioning that while experience is crucial, you should not settle for the first manufacturer you come across, even if they are well-established. Interview multiple suppliers and find out how much experience they have and the kind of projects they have worked on. As mentioned earlier, experienced suppliers will produce quality products, and they also tend to be knowledgeable about the industry.
Narrow down to a few established suppliers that you may be interested in working with, then choose one who has worked on a similar project like yours or one that is closer to the one you want them to work on.
EMS must be following regulatory compliance. They must adhere to the specifications, guidelines, regulations, and laws in the industry since this will impact every stage of the manufacturing process and its final product.
You may also have your guidelines, so the supplier you are working with should follow those. Do not compromise on the guidelines you want them to adhere to. If they are not okay with them, find a supplier who is willing to follow them.
Work with an established company because then you know that they will adhere to the regulatory compliance. This is the only way you can be sure that you will receive electronic devices that are fully functional and ones that work to their potential. Therefore, before you partner with any supplier, ask if they follow the regulatory compliance to make an informed decision. Always remember that you will spend a lot of money on the manufacturing of your electronic product, so you might as well ensure that you get value for your money.
It is also essential to evaluate the design capabilities of the supplier you are partnering with. While things like their flexibility and production matter, you need to find out if they can help you with your software design, electronics design, and hardware design. It helps to select a company that can offer you this.
Working with a company with design capabilities is essential because it can help you in two ways. They can revamp the documentation design of your electronic device and customize it to the production process or help you come up with your product design from scratch. Either way, this is an essential factor to consider.
Another vital thing to consider is that whoever you choose to partner with should be able to meet you where you are with your design. For example, suppose you only have the design concept drafted, then you need a manufacturer who can help you fill in the finer details of the design and turn it into an electronic product.
On the other hand, you may already have a prototype that you need them to tweak, or you may have a rough idea of what you want. Therefore, you need a constructive partnership. You must work with a manufacture who can simplify the design process and help you turn it into a product you want.
Electronic Manufacturing Service Process
When choosing a supplier, choose one that has a wide range. Whether you are looking for a particular range of capabilities or you require a complete contract manufacturing process, you should be able to have options you can choose from. So make sure the supplier you choose offers options of the services you may require to have your electronic device manufactured.
There are various stages you need to confirm that the manufacturing process covers. This includes automated optical inspection, surface mount, assembly, and box build, through-hole technology, testing, cable and wire assembly, coating, inspection, packing, and shipping. You can always contact your supplier and inquire about what their electronic manufacturing process involves. They must cover all the listed stages to ensure that you are getting quality products.
It is vital to have a supplier make a prototype of an electronic device you want to launch, before the official launch, to approve the work done by the engineers in charge of the product design. It would be best not to launch electronic manufacturing without a prototype, so this is another factor to consider when sourcing for a reliable supplier. They should be able to deliver this beforehand.
Having a prototype is an excellent opportunity to assess a device. You can assess the visual ergonomics and appearance of the product, how optimized the materials and components are, and the ease of assembling it during the manufacturing process. If you are not satisfied with the end product, you can have it rectified and note down the adjustments you want to be made. Alternatively, you may want to add more features to it, but if you are satisfied, you can proceed with the launch of your electronics manufacturing.
Prototyping is essential. You do not want the supplier to do mass production of substandard products or ones that do not meet your expectations. This would be a waste of both time and money. This is why design capabilities are an essential factor to consider when looking for a reliable supplier.
Therefore, ensure that the supplier you are considering partnering with has a broad range of prototyping abilities. It ensures the process is more straightforward and more manageable, and there is less back and forth. You will also only have to deal with one supplier, making communication much more straightforward.
It would also help if you found out the kind of technology your would-be EMS supplier uses. More specifically, find out what they have specialized in. It would be best if you had a supplier who uses state-of-the-art technology since you can be sure that they can quickly adapt to the market demand and offer you quality products.
It would be best to ask them all sorts of questions until you are satisfied that they are the right fit for your project. This is even more vital if you intend to have a high-volume production. The best supplier you can partner with is one that uses surface mount technology. If they are using through-hole technology, they may not be the best supplier for you to partner with on this specific project.
Do not shy off from asking all the essential questions since you are paying for their services. For instance, you can find out how equipped they are, if they have laboratories for the different types of tests they need to carry, their tools, and the kind of machine park they have. These aspects significantly affect the manufacturing and design of your devices. Consequentially, they also impact how competitive your electronic products will do in the market.
Therefore, if they are not using state-of-the-art technology, it is likely that your products may also not do that well. As mentioned earlier, there is growth in demand for electronic products globally, and the technology keeps changing.
Consumers want the latest and trendiest devices, so you need a supplier who ensures you stay on top of the game and you quickly adapt to all the changes in the market to ensure that your products are in demand. Remember that the more technologically advanced they are, the more competitive your electronic products.
Sourcing for Products and Supply Chain Management
The prices of the components used significantly affect the value of your product. If anything, they determine a vast percentage of its value. Therefore, it is essential to have this in mind when looking for a supplier you want to partner with. In addition, you want to work with a supplier whose company only works with a specific procedure and standards of the chain of delivery.
Therefore, they need to have a system for vetting and selecting the suppliers they work with. In addition, they should have a specific approach they take when they are working with or introducing a new supplier.
Another essential thing you need to look for is whether the company you are partnering with works with authorized distributors, true and tried suppliers and brand names since your product’s quality need to be consistent. You cannot work with a company that works with random suppliers or brands because then you can never be sure of the quality of the electronic product you will receive on your next order.
Once they deliver your electronic product and you are pleased with their work, let them know the quality you expect. Although, it helps to let them know from the get-go that you expect high-quality electronic products.
Note that if the supplier you are working with does not already have a supply management team in place, it is likely that you will waste a lot of time, and the production will not run smoothly. You will waste so much time tracking down different components needed to make your product, which will be a hassle because there will be many back and forth with multiple suppliers. To gauge their knowledge of global manufacturing and whether they are the right fit, ensure you ask what kind of software they use in managing their supply chain.
Quality Control and Quality Assurance
Another factor determining whether a supplier is reliable and a good fit is quality control and quality assurance. Ensure that your electronic manufacturer exercises both. It is worth noting that quality control is product-oriented while quality assurance is process-oriented.
It would also be best to check their track record to confirm if they deliver both. Working with a supplier who delivers both means that their turnaround time is much faster, and they have a durable production procedure.
You can also rest assured that you will not be disappointed with the electronic products you receive. As discussed earlier, you want to work with a flexible supplier and one who can deliver quality products on short notice. So if a company has both quality control and quality assurance, and the clients they have worked with in the past are satisfied with their work. You can choose to work with them because their products will not be substandard.
We cannot emphasize enough how essential product testing is. When choosing your electronics manufacturing service supplier, you must double-check their experience in using and designing testing tools and systems. This is an additional reason why you must work with a well-established company that has been operational for an extended period because they have the necessary experience.
You can also be sure that they have worked with multiple clients in the past to provide you with a quality electronic product tested and meeting the market demands. Every electronic product manufactured has to be tested to rectify any necessary changes or make adjustments where necessary.
For instance, say you would like a rigid PCB for your device. It is standard for a rigid PCB design to be tested before it is manufactured to ensure that it works how it is supposed to, and no design aspect has been overlooked. Once they have determined that everything is where it’s supposed to be, they start the manufacturing process.
If anything, a good supplier will let you know that their production is not complete without the electronic devices being tested. Every single component in your device must be tested to confirm that there are no deficiencies or defects.
You need to ask several questions about product testing if you intend to have quality electronic products that are competitive in the market. For instance, does the company you are partnering with have the ability to adjustably build a testing environment that is custom-made for your design or product? Can they customize a complete testing solution from scratch at the component level, board, or device? And do they have electronics device manufacturing and design departments? These are essential and are an indicator that your devices will go through product testing.
Costs are another essential factor you need to consider when looking for a reliable supplier. However, please do not let the cost be the determinant factor of the supplier you choose to work with because the cheaper the cost, the more likely it is that you will receive substandard electronic devices.
When coming up with a strategy to find a reliable supplier, you may or may not have a budget drafted for your project. It helps to talk to multiple suppliers to find out what the average cost should be. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, ensure you interview several suppliers to have a broad price range and also decide who has the kind of experience you are looking for in a supplier.
It is worth mentioning that some suppliers may be straightforward and give you a rough estimate, especially if you already have all the fine details of your design figured out. However, if you are still working on the design, you may not get the correct cost estimate or any estimate for that matter.
Once you settle on working with a specific supplier, they will break down the actual cost for you and help you better understand the project since there will be a quotation for the different components. The only way to get the actual cost of your project is by having a quotation, which most suppliers may not be willing to draft if you are not committed to working with them on your project.
You can always ask for referrals to compare costs or research, but use this as a reference point to have a general idea of what to expect. Remember that even with referrals or research, what you come up with is not the actual cost. Different designs and projects will cost a different amount.
While you should choose to work with a company that has been operational for an extended period since they have the experience, it is also essential to confirm that the team working on your electronic device is experienced. You do not want to have novices working on your project, so you need to check with your supplier and specify this.
Whether the company you are working with is relatively new in the industry or it has been around for a while, remember that every company is made up of a team of people. Everyone has different skills, expertise, and experience. Therefore, it would be best if you got to know the team working on your project. Ask your supplier who is behind the manufacturing process of your electronic device.
Once you know who makes the team, try and find out whether they have the comprehensive technical skills needed for the manufacturing process. Other factors to consider are their collective experience managing the manufacturing process in several industries and their ability to adapt to your needs quickly. But perhaps the essential thing to consider is whether you are comfortable working with them.
Remember that they are the ones who will essentially turn your design concept into a product, so you need to be confident in their capability. If there is no rapport and your gut feeling is not at ease, move on and find a team you are sure will execute your concept to the letter.
Another essential factor to consider when looking for a reliable electronic manufacturing services supplier is finding one who can help you with the electronic products certification process. There are multiple reasons why this is vital. However, the outstanding one is that it ensures that the manufactured electronic device quality meets international standards. In addition, it should also meet the set criteria for safety.
Suppose you are planning to launch your electronic product in multiple international markets. It would help if you had an advisor who can help you get all the required certificates. They can quickly help you obtain ones local to the country you intend to export the electronic devices too. This is why you need to work with a company with experience and has been around for an extended period.
They are more likely to help you with this process, and it will be seamless and fast than a relatively new company to the market. The chances are that a new company may not know how to go about this process. Ensure that as you are talking to multiple suppliers, ask if they can help you with the certification process, especially if you intend to have your electronic product in the global market.
While we are on the subject of certification, it is also worth mentioning that you should find out the standards and the certification of the company you are working with. Most suppliers with a website will have their standards and certifications published on their informational literature or company website.
You should not have to dig for this information or ask for it if they are indeed a trustworthy company. It is essential to understand the experience, certifying body, and time, related to essential certifications. Another vital thing is finding out if those certifications are relevant to the electronic products you need.
The standards and certifications of the supplier you choose may significantly affect your certifications’ compliance. It would help if you confirmed that their current standards and certifications are ongoing and are not discontinued. It is worth noting that the standards related to the processes and products offer external credibility and confidence in a supplier.
Therefore, it would help if you did extensive research and found out what standards are popular in the industry, so you know if your chosen supplier meets them. You can also check if their team is trained to meet these standards. Some suppliers may provide you with a certificate of compliance for some of the goods they have shipped in the past to confirm that they indeed meet the industry standards.
There are several other factors you may have to consider when looking for a reliable supplier. As long as you have a general idea of the electronic device you would like or have a finely detailed design, you are off to a good start. This can help guide you since you know the specific manufacturer you are looking for and what industry your device is intended for.
In addition, it would be best if you worked with a reliable supplier to ensure that the process runs seamlessly and that they have the experience to turn your design into a fully functional product. There are so many electronic manufacturing companies to choose from, and the above guide can help you make an informed decision. Contact us if you are looking for a reliable electronic manufacturing service partner, especially for your rigid PCB needs.